Republicans Waging All Out War; Democratic Party Conducting Business as Usual
How We Get the Democratic Party Leadership We Need to Fight Back and Win
Democratic Party leadership, including President Biden, is feckless, irresponsible, and ineffective. Collectively, it is failing to carry out its Constitutional and avowed responsibilities to represent voters, constituents, and the nation, as its pathetic responses to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision makes abundantly clear.
Here are Speaker Pelosi’s comments: “Today, the Republican-controlled Supreme Court has achieved the GOP’s dark and extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions.
“With Roe now out of their way, radical Republicans are charging ahead with their crusade to criminalize health freedom. GOP extremists are even threatening to criminalize contraception, as well as in-vitro fertilization and post-miscarriage care.
“This cruel ruling is outrageous and heart-wrenching. But make no mistake: the rights of women and all Americans are on the ballot this November.”
Here’s all that Senator Schumer could come up with after months of advance warning: “Today is one of the darkest days our country has ever seen. Millions upon millions of American women are having their rights taken from them by five unelected Justices on the extremist MAGA court.
These justices have stolen a fundamental right to have an abortion away from American women in this country. These MAGA Republicans are all complicit in today’s decision and all of its consequences for women and families in this country.
“Today’s decision makes crystal clear the contrast as we approach the November elections: elect more MAGA Republicans if you want nationwide abortion bans, the jailing of women and doctors and no exemptions for rape or incest. Or, elect more pro-choice Democrats to save Roe and protect a woman’s right to make their own decisions about their body, not politicians.”
Most disappointing -- from someone who claims to have been fighting this war for decades -- was President Biden’s speech: “Today is a — it’s not hyperbole to suggest a very solemn moment. Today, the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away a constitutional right from the American people that it had already recognized.
They didn’t limit it. They simply took it away. That’s never been done to a right so important to so many Americans.
But they did it. And it’s a sad day for the Court and for the country.
Make no mistake: This decision is the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law. It’s a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court, in my view.
It’s a — it just — it just stuns me.
This fall, we must elect more senators and representatives who will codify a woman’s right to choose into federal law once again, elect more state leaders to protect this right at the local level.
This fall, Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality, they’re all on the ballot.
First, I call on everyone, no matter how deeply they care about this decision, to keep all protests peaceful. Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful. No intimidation. Violence is never acceptable. Threats and intimidation are not speech. We must stand against violence in any form regardless of your rationale.
My administration will use all of its appropriate lawful powers. But Congress must act. And with your vote, you can act. You can have the final word. This is not over.”
The President is right in two aspects: it’s not over, and he was “stunned” – stunned into useless rhetoric – just as the right intended. That much was evident by the odd insertion of the “remain peaceful” portion of his speech. Self-defense is established law and long-standing American practice for dealing with bullies, yet Biden is directing us to continue to turn the other cheek until we have nothing left to preserve. That is loser talk, it is the noise before defeat. During peacetime, it makes some sense. But we are at war, and there is no honor in unilateral disarmament and appeasement.
The right will keep fighting and stripping away rights until it comes up against meaningful opposition rather than hyperbole. We’d be better off if all three of these leaders had said nothing publicly, but immediately acted. Instead, they doubled down on failed, self-serving strategy.
“Vote Harder” is not the answer. Control of the White House and both houses of Congress have done nothing to blunt the right’s rising power, but the key strategy remains voting? How stupid do they think we are? Vote Harder is a blatant fund-raising mantra designed to capture precious resources, which are then theoretically applied to bankrupt legislative strategy, but which instead feed a bottomless re-election machine. That is the textbook definition of “counterproductive,” and our willingness to play along the textbook definition of insanity.
Party leadership needs immediate reinvigoration, and that requires foremost new people at the helm. Both history and our modeling reveal poor Democratic Party leadership to be one of the two biggest factors enabling Republican ascendancy and minority role in the U.S., the other being the mutually amplifying structural anomalies of the Senate composition favoring small states and the existence of the Electoral College.
Pelosi, Schumer, Feinstein, and Biden are unfit for the urgency of this crisis, their effectiveness hampered by an obsolete political philosophy and unwillingness to change in the face of clear necessity. They’re not going to walk away from their leadership positions voluntarily, so we’re going to have to nudge them out.
Here's how we go about this program:
First, we’re going to support the hell out of progressive officeholders such as AOC, who recommends the following immediate actions: “Restrain judicial review - Expand the court - Clinics on federal lands - Expand education and access to Plan C - Repeal Hyde - Hold floor votes codifying Griswold, Obergefell, Lawrence, Loving, etc. - Vote on Escobar’s bill protecting clinics We can do it! We can at least TRY.” She has the right ideas, energy, and electoral positioning to lead the fight against the right, and we must demand that party officials make way for her ascendance instead of insisting on seniority. All similarly positioned state and national level progressive elected officials should be supported in the same manner.
Why is this critical? Well, while our analyses indicate that both electoral and Congressional power are waning, our modeling indicates that exercising such power is still a critical piece in the overall strategy to preserve democracy.
Then, we’re going to replace the dinosaurs with more fit species – progressives – by primarying them, encouraging more progressives to run for office and funding them, and finally, by boycotting the corporations and PACs that support the dinosaurs.
Worry that there is no appetite for such an endeavor? Here are a few thoughts from average American citizens on Roe’s overturning:
"My rights should not be a fundraising point for them, or a campaigning point," Zoe Warren, a protester outside the Supreme Court, told MSNBC Sunday morning. "They have had multiple opportunities to codify Roe into law over the past 20, 30, 40, 50 years — and they haven't done it.
The anger over Democratic inaction has been a major component of the reactions to the end of Roe around the country. People are fed up. Jane S, a teacher in upstate New York, said she's had it with Democrats.”
"I'll vote in local and state elections, but I don't give a shit about federal anymore," Jane told me.
It's infuriating that 'defend Roe' has been a rallying cry for fundraising, but they've never seemed to take the courts seriously," Jane added. To anyone paying attention, it's obvious that this was the Republican long game, and the Democrats were content to sit there with their heads in their asses, acting like the moment we're in would never come because of precedent or status quo or whatever." Democrats face rage after Roe disaster: "It feels like they couldn't care less,” Democrats face rage after Roe disaster: "It feels like they couldn't care less," Salon, by EOIN HIGGINS, June 27, 2022.
But that’s nowhere near enough. Replacing Democratic party leadership is a necessary but insufficient condition for the preservation of democracy. The complexity of interests and challenges currently facing us require a drastic change to our governance norms, most notably with the gradual and methodical replacement of mediated representative democracy with participative democracy. The way we ensure some traction in this regard is to make it a precondition of our support for progressive office seekers and those seeking reelection. Long-term office holding has a corrupting influence even on the best of people, and participative democracy limits the possibility for corruption by keeping politicians on a much tighter leash.
Should you doubt the efficacy of participative democracy, perhaps it’s worthwhile to point out that Republicans, through stochastic violence, increasing gun ownership levels, and endorsement of white nationalist Christo fascist organizations, are “all in” on participative democracy. They just don’t want us to notice or coopt their winning tactics.
If you have little interest in the historical parallels with our current situation, feel free to skip ahead to the concluding paragraphs. ……….Start History Lesson……..
Germany’s President – Paul Von Hindenburg, was in his late 80s and clearly doddering when he acquiesced to Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor – an event he could have easily prevented and whose implications he failed to comprehend due to senility and arrogance. That single act changed history irrevocably for the worse, leading to the death of at least 40 million people.
Maurice Gamelin, Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces during the Battle of France, was in his mid-60s when the Germans attacked France’s militarily superior forces. France’s Prime Minister, Paul Renaud, was nearing sixty when the war started. Other senior French military officials were also exceptionally old by military standards (they would have long since been forcefully retired in the U.S., for instance), and collectively the moribund leadership squandered both strategic and tactical advantage, capitulated to an inferior force, and give Hitler the victory that enabled him to subsequently gobble up most of Europe and exterminate 10 million people.
Fortunately, at the onset of World War II, Great Britain had Winston Churchill, and the U.S. had Franklin Roosevelt and George Marshall. Roosevelt was in his late 50s, Marshall had just turned 60, and Churchill was just shy of his 65th birthday when WWII began, illustrating that age alone is not the primary limiting factor in good leadership. While there were many heroes in that war, these three men were the difference makers. Good leadership matters always, but it is especially decisive in wartime. To our reinvigoration point, George Marshall forcefully retired a large percentage of the U.S. Army General Officer Corps when the war began, and historians credit this action as likely the most important factor in the Army’s battlefield success.
The difference in the World War II situation from that which we face today is important: Germany was forced to strategically factor the U.S. into its decision-making, the French had the British supporting them, and the British had America standing behind them. There is no country standing behind the U.S. now should we falter, and the right has no external enemy to fear should they render the U.S. into an authoritarian state. ------End History Lesson-----
How dire is our situation? In the event of authoritarian takeover of the United States, we’ll experience a second global Dark Ages from which it is unlikely humanity will emerge before life on earth becomes biologically unsustainable. This forecast is not borrowed from a novel or Hollywood dystopian film – it is the likely outcome of multiple forecasting models, including our own.
We use the term “war” liberally in our writing, not because we hope to shock through hyperbole, but because: the socio-political situation in the United States meets the textbook definition: “a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state;” and because the right has declared war on democrats, liberals, progressives, women, children, non-whites and immigrants – and is waging war on multiple fronts through words and actions, supported by nearly bottomless economic resources.
We use the term war deliberately because the prerequisite for effective action is the accurate characterization of reality. Democratic leadership resistance to use of the term is not noble; it is a deliberate obfuscation of reality to further their own ends – and those ends no longer align with the needs of the nation or the desires of its citizens.
We liken Biden’s Roe speech to that of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of September 30, 1938, upon his return from the meeting with Hitler where he threw Czechoslovakia under the bus: “I believe it is peace for our time. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.” What these two speeches reveal about Biden and Chamberlain is that they were/are tired, past their primes, and not up to the tremendous tasks in front of them.
By contract, here's what Churchill said in similarly dark times to ours: “we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” The tasks in front of us are to find our own Churchill, and to defend our own island of democracy.
The time for fence sitting has passed, and progressive conscription has begun in earnest. Please join up.